Much of the Justin Trudeau chatter amongst the "political class" is focused on the style vs substance question, pretty hair meets concrete policy. While I completely agree that Trudeau must demonstrate some policy chops- particularly on the economy- I find the discussion a bit detached from reality, even more curious given past experience.
Begin with a simple fact: Canadian politics are as deep as a bird bath, packaging trumps substance every single time. Political geeks may yearn for depth, but what is presented to ordinary Canadians by political parties and the media that covers is largely simplistic, superficial, soundbite, catchphrase TRIPE. To then demand serious policy wonk articulation from Trudeau is to forget the current climate, which is why I find the "bar" being set for success an esoteric discussion, with little relevance to real world Canadians.
Trudeau must articulate a vision for Canada, Trudeau must have an economic agenda that comes with appeal, Trudeau must look competent and display leadership qualities. Beyond these generalizations, perhaps superseding, Trudeau must be packaged and sold, like a commodity. Today, I hear soundbites from Trudeau's speech last night, a snappy line all that is required to convey a positive tone. Trudeau loves Canada, delivered with authenticity, right there a passing grade for an introductory speech, if one incorporates all the other intangibles that make Justin attractive. The Conservatives have mastered the 5 second soundbite, facts and stats secondary, so why then do pundits look for something deeper when analyzing Trudeau's "challenges"?
We currently have a government in power that has ran on a couple banner ideas, marketed like a product, tight messaging, repetitive themes, all within the domain of that film that resides at the top of any pond. Nobody gets their hair wet in Canadian politics, in fact it is dangerous to offer in depth policy, it allows for retort, attacks, much better to run on hope and slick packaging. Again, we political geeks may hunger for more, but the reality is all this talk about Trudeau needing to display great policy depth is pure bunk, cobble together a generalized vision, offer up some detail in a "red book" and sell it.
Above all, whether Trudeau succeeds or fails will depend on his ability to CONNECT. Within that reality, how the Liberal team sells the man, how it packages the general vision, how it creates a constituency that ultimately brings success, both in terms of leadership and potentially beyond. If Canadians like Justin, it will be more important than deep intellectual arguments concerning substance. Not a statement on right or wrong, just a recognition of the modern political machine, which also understands there is much to "work with" with Justin Trudeau.